There was a recurring line in the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" that could accurately describe the Vikings' pursuit of a defensive tackle in the first round of this year's draft – "Who are those guys?"
With less than four weeks remaining until the draft, there are as many as seven defensive tackles that could go in the first round and, whether the Vikings remain at pick No. 7 or move down to acquire additional picks in the first round, defensive tackle remains the big question on everyone's mind. Who are those guys?
To many fans who follow the pro game and not the college game, these players are simply names on a piece of paper. As the draft nears, VU will break down all the Vikings' draft needs by position and give fans a detailed look at who's who on April 26-27. Until then, here's a short list of why the Magnificent Seven defensive tackles could make the 2003 draft the Year of the DT.
* Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State – a 6-4, 325-pound brickhouse that came to Penn State weighing 400 pounds. Viewed as the top DT in the draft but some insiders think he has the most potential of any of this year's crop to be a bust. Has good speed for his size, but consistency is a question. PROJECTION: Anywhere from Pick No. 3 to No. 7 (Vikings).
* Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky – At 6-1, 317, he's an ideal size-strength fit for the Vikings. A fourth-year junior, if he had gone back to Kentucky, he could be a top three pick next year. Great lower body strength, but struggles against players bigger than himself. PROJECTION: No. 7 to the Vikings.
* Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State – At 6-5, 304, he has the size and bulk that has seen his stock jump in the last month from a second rounder to the middle of the first round. Made his name at the Senior Bowl. Can play DT or DE. Good speed, but doesn't have the overpowering lower body strength teams are looking for if they want the next Warren Sapp. PROJECTION: Could go at No. 10 to Ravens or Seattle.
* William Joseph, Miami – At 6-5, 308, he started every game of his four-year college career. Is a solid run stuffer and pass rusher whose durability is his selling point. Has been compared to Sapp since they played at Miami, but pales by comparison. Is a little lazy in the eyes of some scouts, but has great upside potential if harnessed. PROJECTION: Likely won't make it past the Jets or Patriots at Nos. 13-14.
* Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia – A 6-3, 313 – The DT wildcard, he could jump ahead of Williams and Joseph or stay here. A third-year junior who was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs. Very good strength, but complaint on him is that he is slow off the snap. PROJECTION: If Jets and Pats keep their picks at 13-14, he will likely be one of the two DTs taken with those picks.
* Rien Long, Washington State – He's 6-6, 302 and has become the darling of the St. Paul print media, who seem to be acting as his agent – promoting him as the Vikings' pick at No. 7. The problem with that is simple. While he has the height and quickness to be a star, the Vikings want a fireplug with lower body strength and bulk to play next to Chris Hovan. He has neither. PROJECTION: Likely to go late in the first round with teams like the Colts and Giants looking at him seriously.
* Ty Warren, Texas A&M – At 6-5, 307, he would be a top DT in other years. He can play DE in a 3-4 or DT or nose tackle in a 4-3. Has strength to burn, but isn't overly fast or aggressive. PROJECTION: Likely to go late in the first round or very early in the second round and could be a steal for teams that have been forced to watch other DTs go off the board while waiting their turn.
The Magnificent Seven DTs
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